Museum

The Savanna, Ill. Army Depot Museum contains a variety of displays and memorabilia from the old army base.

The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

SAVANNA, Ill. — During the second weekend of October, tents, artillery and Civil War “soldiers” will be seen at the old Savanna Army Depot. The Savanna Army Depot Museum will hold its first Civil War Re-enactment Oct. 10-11.

When entering the Savanna Army Depot, located seven miles north of Savanna off of Illinois 84, the museum is visible. This building once was the chapel for the army base. Vice President of the Savanna Army Depot Museum, Jack Carson, said this museum actually grew out from the Railroad Museum, of which he is president. Carson said they were looking for a place to store railroad memorabilia and act as a welcome center when the chapel became available. Carson said soon they had people bringing in memorabilia from families who had worked on the army base. He said they decided these items deserved their own museum.

“It’s history. A lot of local people worked here,” said Carson. The base opened in 1918 and Carson said it was open during every war through the Gulf War.

The Savanna Army Depot Museum has a variety of items. Pictures, newspapers and various displays fill the room. Carson said the museum has pictures of all of the commanders. Bunk beds from the old barracks were moved into the museum. A large model of the base is one of the first things a person notices as they enter the museum. Other displays are spread throughout the museum, including one for Blackhawk Village, where many people working at the base lived.

“We’re not funded by any state funds, nor federal funds, nor group funds. It comes out of our pocket. In other words, the president, the vice president, the secretary, treasurer and the board members. We have to, we’re maintaining this museum out of our pockets,” said Carson. He said they do receive some donations, but money can be tight.

Carson said the group decided to hold a fundraising event and he suggested having a Civil War re-enactment. The museum has an individual from the Chicago area organizing the event. Re-enactors from Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota will come to participate in the event. Carson said he has received countless calls from re-enactors planning to come.

“(It’s an) ideal spot to have a re-enactment. We have a lot of space and it’s an old army base,” said Carson.

Re-enactments will be held in one of the fields near the museum at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on both days. On Oct. 10, a flag raising ceremony will be held before the first presentation. Carson said the ceremony should have an interesting look as both Union and Confederate troops will be involved. During the day people attending will be able to walk through the campsite and watch the battles.

“We’ve got motorcar, railroad motorcar rides up on the railroad. And we have vendors of all kinds of delicious foods and other vendors that kind of follow the circuit of re-enactments,” said Carson.

Ed Breck, who is involved with the museum and is married to the organization’s secretary and treasurer, Veva Breck, said he feels the event will be a lot of fun. He also said it is chance for people, especially the younger people, to see a bit of history.

On the evening of Oct. 10, a Civil War Ball will be held. Carson said people will be able to dress up to attend this dance if they want to. Carson will also provide a small fireworks display, which will be funded by donations.

Carson said he feels this will be a great event for the museum. He said they hope to also have a World War II show in May. He said they also hope this Civil War re-enactment will continue to be an annual event.

Ticket prices for the event will be $5 per person and toddlers will be allowed in for free. The event is handicap accessible. People are encouraged to bring folding chairs. Call (563) 451-7458 or (815) 273-1162 for more information.

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